How to Write Everything is the name of David Quantick’s book. He has years of journalism, screenwriting, speeches and sketches under his belt. From sitcoms to novels. With thirty years’ experience as an award-winning scriptwriter. He is also a self-confessed Hack.
I am reading and taking notes on what DQ has to say to us about writing and how he got to the success he now has.
The opening is summed up in “the secret to writing is oddly to write.” If you don’t write anything then there won’t be any words. Steven King said something very similar in his book on writing: “I constantly meet people who say they want to write and mentally to myself I say. No you don’t, because if you did, you would”
So I better stop fiddling with the stuff on my desk and get on with it. DQ’s advice is to start write anything. It will be terrible but the words will come and you will get better. Just like lifting heavy weights make you strong; constant word use and reading will make you write your best. So nothing you write is ever pointless. You never know who or what is trapped in your page. If you have an obstacle to your writing use the problem into your writing. It will help you get over it.
DQ tells us; don’t hate deadlines. I recall Douglas Adams in an online video say he likes the sound deadlines make when they fly past. But he is only joking. DQ warns that deadlines are to encourage you; it means that someone cares about you writing. Respect deadlines they are incentive and productivity.
Being a hack is okay if you produce work for someone else. Writers don’t get to be the lead singer very often. Writers are who work to make the actor or singer sound better than the monkey that they often are.
The ability to mimic another person’s voice is essential. You can’t just write from ones’ experience. If that was so than the Aliens movies would have been written by aliens. (Scary thought.) We are all standing on the shoulders of giants, so get over yourself and into your writing.
Chance can make you creative and everyone has different ways to writing.
Chapter 2 is about ideas. Where do you get your ideas? It’s all about making connections DQ tells us.
An idea can come from anything at all. It is not that it may be good or bad, but if you can write it, do it. Like planning a journey; you know the start and where you want to get to you just need to do the middle bit. If you need to borrow a map for your idea to follow, that’s okay. However, generating your own ideas even if you get lost on the way is just more rewarding.
Unless you have never been outside you still have your experience or your imagination. However, you have to be brave enough to cut and chop ideas that are just not working. You just don’t know if it will work until you write it a bit and a bit more. Then take a break. When you come back and read it you can be honest with yourself.
All stories are ‘xxx’ with a twist. So you don’t need to be overly original they just need you or just need it from you.
Borrow what you know works until your ideas strengthen. Take convention and mess with it until you are happy with it. Passing off is not allowed, being inspired is.